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Ambassador in International Law

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AMBASSADOR IN INTERNATIONAL LAW. Ambassadors formed the first class of the public ministers (q. v.) who were sent abroad by sovereign states with authority to represent their government and to transact business with the government to which they were sent.

A distinction was formerly made between Ambassadors Extraordinary, who were sent to conduct special business or to remain for an indeterminate period, and Ambassadors Or dinary, who were sent on permanent mis sions ; but this distinction is no longer ob served.

Ambassadors are regarded .as the personal representatives of the head of the state which sends them, and in consequence they are entitled to special honors, and have spe cial privileges, chiefly that of negotiating personally with the head of the state, though this privilege is of little value at the present day, owing to the general adoption of consti tutional forms of government. Only Em pires, Kingdoms, Grand Duchies, and great Republics are entitled to send and receive Ambassadors. Until recently the United States was represented by Ministers Pleni potentiary, never having sent persons of the rank of Ambassador in the diplomatic sense. On March 3, 1893, a law was passed au thorizing the President to designate as Am bassadors the representatives of the United States to such countries as he might be ad vised were so represented or about to be rep resented in the United States. In conse quence of this law the United States is now represented by Ambassadors in Great Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Prance, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Japan, Turkey, and Spain.

Before an Ambassador Is sent to a foreign country, it is the custom to inquire if the designated person will be a persona grata to the government of that country. No reasons need be given by the foreign government for refusing to receive a given individual. After an appointment the Ambassador is provided with a letter of credence (q. v.) which iden tifies him at the foreign court.

The duties of an Ambassador are varied; he is the mouthpiece of communications from °his state to the foreign country; he must keep his government informed upon all questions of interest to it ; he must see to the protection of citizens of his country resi dent in the foreign state; and he may nego tiate treaties when his government specially empowers him to do so by giving him a docu ment called Full Powers (q. v.).

The person of an Ambassador is inviolable. He is exempt from both the criminal and civil jurisdiction of the country to which he is sent. As early as 1708 an act was passed by the British Parliament confirming the immunity of Ambassadors from arrest and imposing heavy penalties upon any persons who should serve a writ or process upon them. They can not be arrested for debt, nor for violation of the law, except in cases where it may be necessary to prevent them from committing acts of violence. If, how ever, they should be so regardless of their duty and of the object of their immunity as to injure or openly attack the laws of the foreign government, their functions may be suspended by a refusal to treat with them, or application can be made to their own sovereign for their recall, or they may be dismissed or required to depart within a reasonable time.

By what is called the fiction of em-terri toniality, the exemption of an ambassador from the jurisdiction of the country in which he resides has been extended to his house and his suite. His house cannot. be entered by officers of police, nor can his servants be arrested by the ordinary writ or process. In consequence, the Ambassador's house has sometimes been used as an asylum (q. v.) for criminals. Much diplomatic controversy has taken place upon this point, and at pres ent asylum Is not given, except occasionally, in times of revolution, to political refugees.

An ambassador's children born abroad re tain the citizenship of their father ; Geofroy v. Riggs, 133 U. S. 258, 10 Sup. Ct. 295, 33 L. Ed. 642; Moore, IV, §§ 623-695.